Fun African Scops Owl Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun African Scops Owl Facts For Kids

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Owls are now famous and even have a fan base, thanks to 'Harry Potter' movies. The African scops owl  (Otus senegalensis) is very similar to Draco Malfoy's great-horned owl. The African scops owl has a variety of names throughout the world. In French it is 'Petit-duc africain,' amongst Dutch people, it is popularly known as 'Afrikaanse Dwergooruil,' in Portuguese it is called the 'Mocho de orelhas africano' and in German, it is the 'Afrikanische Zwergohreule.' This species is endemic to South Africa. Despite their spooky eyes, they are often preyed on due to their small ear tufts and overall compact size. If and when you see an African scops owl with raised ear tufts it is better to stay away because it indicates that the bird is disturbed. They have acute visual and auditory capabilities, which aids them in hunting. They typically hawk flying insects and occasionally swoop to get food on the ground. These birds are tracked down by their night calls which reoccur every eight seconds or sometimes even longer. They vary in elevation from sea level to 1.2 mi (2,000 m).

If you are someone who loves owls check out these articles on facts about flammulated owls and whiskered screech owls.

Fun African Scops Owl Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Crickets, moths, beetles, grasshoppers

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

0.09-0.22 lb (0.045-0.1 kg)

How long are they?

Wingspan of 18 in (45 cm)

How tall are they?

5.9–6.7 in (15–17 cm)

What do they look like?

Gray-brown, brown hues

Skin Type


What were their main threats?

Foxes, Hawks, American Jackal Or Domestic Cats, Lynx Cats

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them?

Mangrove Swamps, Woodland, Gardens


Sub-saharan Africa









African Scops Owl Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an African scops owl?

The African scops owl, Otus senegalensis, is a typical nocturnal owl.

What class of animal does an African scops owl belong to?

This bird belongs to the class of Aves.

How many African scops owls are there in the world?

The exact population range is not computable. Three subspecies of this owl exist and their numbers are not thought to be struggling.

Where does an African scops owl live?

They are widespread across Sub-Saharan Africa, except for the tropical forests of West Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are also found in northern and central Namibia, southern Botswana, Mozambique, southern parts of Zimbabwe, and northern and south-eastern South Africa.

What is an African scops owl's habitat?

This species is adaptable to a broad range of environmental conditions. Their typical habitat is the woodland and forest with Mopane trees or Acacia trees surrounded by water bodies. The owls might potentially spread into stream bushlands among tidal forests.

Who do African scops owls live with?

The South African scops owl is a solo nester. The birds, in pairs, might nest near one another within a particular domain that they have designated as theirs. They only live as a family during the breeding season. The chicks stay in the nest for about a month after which they leave.

How long does an African scops owl live?

The scops owl, Otus senegalensis, lives for 10 years. In the wild, the average lifespan is six years. Their lifespan can be extended based on the regions they live in and food availability. Starvation is the leading cause of death in younger ones.

How do they reproduce?

These small birds reproduce by laying a clutch of white eggs during their breeding season, which lasts from April to June, with a range of four to seven eggs per clutch. The female lays eggs in the nest and sometimes even on the ground. These eggs are incubated by the females for 30-35 days.

What is their conservation status?

As per the  International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, they are considered as Least Concern.

African Scops Owl Fun Facts

What do African scops owls look like?

The scops owl, Otus senegalensis, is a small bird found in grayish brown colors and other hues of brown. It is extremely attractive with black streaks and spots. The bird has sharp ear tufts and faint black stripes on its tail. It has yellow eyes and pale brown feet which are moderately feathered. Its face is disc-shaped with no streaks and a blackish-brown lining. The length of the beak is quite short, it is curved and black.

African Scops Owl.

How cute are they?

These South African owls are as cute as a button. The younger ones are said to be more admirable immediately after they have fledged.

How do they communicate?

They communicate with each other through a distinct repetitious sound. The male and female are found calling each other while they leave for the roost site. At night there is a monotonous call note 'kruupp' similar to that of the frogs. We can also hear them making brief, single-note 'prooop' sounds. This species is capable of differentiating other calls from the hungry call of younger ones. They are known for the sound they make.

How big is an African scops owl?

The African scops owl size is two times the size of your palm. The length of the bird is 5.9–6.7 in (15–17 cm)  and the maximum length across their wings is 18 in (45 cm).

How fast can an African scops owl fly?

The exact speed at which these species travel is not recorded. The small birds are not seen in flight often. They make short trips with rapid wing strokes.

How much does an African scops owl weigh?

The scops owl, Otus senegalensis, weighs from 1.6-3.5 oz (45-100 g). This species is heavier in the head and breast region.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Though these birds are dimorphic, the male and female do not have separate names. They both have the same name.

What would you call a baby African scops owl?

The baby owl can be called African Scops owl hatchling or even African Scops owl chick.

What do they eat?

Around 80% of the African Scops owl's food is just insects like moths, crickets, grasshoppers, sometimes even earthworms, and scorpions. Their diet rarely includes smaller vertebrates like bats.

Are they dangerous?

Like all birds, unless they are disturbed or feel threatened they pose no harm. These birds are highly protective of their younger ones. So even being spotted near the younger ones trigger them.

Would they make a good pet?

Keeping them as pets wouldn't be a great idea. Though they adapt easily the human environment might not be a great habitat for them. They prefer living in open spaces and tree nests. Since they are solitary birds constant human contact might disturb them and make them aggressive. The mortality rate of these birds rises when they do not have a healthy diet hence keeping them alive in your house would be a tedious job.

Did you know...

Did you know that compared to other kinds of owls living in Africa like the African Spotted Eagle Owl, Milky Eagle Owl, and Vermiculated Eagle Owl the African scops owl is the smallest in the whole of Africa?

This gray bird is monogamous-remaining with the same partner throughout their life. The females will select the males depending on the quality of the nesting space as well as the amount of food present.

The female birds are heavier than the male birds.

The younger ones are fed as much as 66 times at night. The male bird brings four to five prey items at dawn and dusk. They fledge in about a month.

Types of African scops owl

Otus senegalensis senegalensis: This genus is found in South Africa.

Otus senegalensis nivosus: These birds are spotted in southern parts of Kenya from the lower Tana River to the Lali Hills.

Otus senegalensis feae: The distribution of this species is mainly in Annobón island, Guinea.

How does the African scops owl camouflage itself?

It's almost impossible to spot these mammals while they are sitting on a tree or while resting in the tree cavities. The perfectly placed soft gray streaks and dots help to break down the owl's basic features, leaving it visually indistinguishable. This is a defensive mechanism. The brown hues allow them to camouflage in any brown background.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our Bowerbird facts and Kestrel bird facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring one of our free printable African scops owl coloring pages.

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